If you aren’t familiar with Lettuce Entertain You, the big wigs and ingenious company behind so many staple Chicago bistros and top notch eateries, than either you’re not in the biz or not from the Windy City. It doesn’t really matter, what does, is that you sample some of their top joints, one of those being the most fun to roll off the tongue: Mon Ami Gabi.
If your high school French is failing you, N’inquiétez pas, it simply means, My friend Gabi. Just as fun as the bistro’s name, is the executive chef and owner of six of the top Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, Gabino Sotelino (hence the name). Sotelino is touted as one of Chicago’s best and a few samplings of his French delicacies will tell you why.
Classic French fare is done just right and the ambiance is cozily reminiscent of that corner bistro in Paris, yet the gluten free menu and option to buy their steaks online make it all-American too.
If you’ve never experienced France, try the next best thing and look no further than Bistrot la Minette. Even the most experienced French culinary aficionados will be impressed by the amazingly authentic creations by chef Peter Woosley, cooking up classic bistro dishes, from Œuf du Pêcheur (mussels with a poached egg and tarragon cream sauce) andEscargots, to Roasted Chicken and Steak au Poivre. The equally divine dessert selection is the perfect end to an evening, with tartes and pastries galore (Oh la la!).
On a nice night, sit outside in the Garden Courtyard, whose dazzling European feel not only takes you away from the buzz of the city, but also won Best Outdoor Dining in 2009 from Philadelphia Magazine. Better yet, go on a Monday or Thursday night, when the Bistrot shows French films as you wine and dine in the courtyard. For larger parties, reservations can be made for the rustic farm-inspired private dining room, offering a separate menu for up to 20 guests. Could this place be more charming?
The city has finally introduced its first modern Japanese brasserie known as Basho. Located near Fenway Park, Basho is the latest from Jack Huang, owner of the popular Douzo in the Back Bay. The restaurant offers an innovative interpretation of modern Japanese cuisine using Western styles, methods and ingredients with signature dishes, like flavored Sushi and Sashimi (traditional Japanese flavors added directly to the seafood), lobster miso bouillabaisse and foie gras teriyaki.
Basho (Japanese for “a place where things happen”) also offers a variety of cocktails – think house infusions and homemade simple syrups using fresh, local herbs- along with traditional Japanese sake, wine and beer. The interior boasts soaring ceilings with a minimalist vibe set in a relaxed, yet chic scene. If you are feeling social, grab a seat at one of the communal tables, or for more private dining there are intimate corners. Basho also has an outdoor patio with retractable awnings as well as a sushi bar, raw bar and sleek, wraparound liquor bar. Visit bashosushi.com for more information.
Don’t expect to be handed a paper menu when you enter this place, they’re non-existent. No printed wine list either, because everything available at Buena Vista Bistro changes daily. That’s why this place fits in perfectly with the bohemian Buena Vista neighborhood that neighbors the heart of the Miami Design District.
Small, intimate, dark and moody, the restaurant’s interior suits the French-inspired cuisine. There are no menus, but there is a big chalkboard and mirror, so when something’s out, the eraser comes out and it’s off the board. What graces that infamous board? Goodies like the Endive and Blue Cheese Appetizer, and Jumbo Scallops, Escargot a la Provencale, Ratatouille and Grouper in Beurre Blanc for entrees. Desserts are always a surprise, along with the daily delectable concoctions that are devised here.
At night, Buena Vista Bistro comes alive, being voted the Best Late Night Dining by the Miami New Times. So whether taking a little delicious detour from the Miami Design District or enjoying a reasonably priced French meal after most restaurants have been emptied, Buena Vista is that perfect French bistro.
With three locations and endless rave reviews, it’s no wonder that Café Bizou is popular all over Los Angeles, from Pasadena to Sherman Oaks to Santa Monica.
This French bistro is the perfect birthday, anniversary or first date location. Though elegant and intimate, it’s doubtful you can show up on a Friday night without spotting a sweet sixteen to your right and a newly engaged couple to your left. If mood lighting and a quiet atmosphere is your thing, then this place probably isn’t. The Santa Monica location may be beautiful, but with that beauty comes a whole lot of people.
Thanks to its two dollar corkage fee and prix fixe menus, the long wait you will experience without a reservation is most definitely worth it. Diners who swear by this café leave raving about the flourless chocolate cake and the Steak au Poivre as a few of their favorites.
Café Bizou truly takes French food to a whole other level, leaving the ritzy feeling behind and bringing family and friends together. With great food and great prices, don’t be surprised to find another location coming to a city near you.
Malbecs and Beaujolais and Viogniers, oh my! Just as a fine wine has its particular nuances that sometimes you can’t seem to put your finger on, Vintage Wine Bar and Bistro has that charm that keeps you coming back for more.
It is certainly helpful that Vintage is constantly changing their menu, but the one great consistency is that there’s over 60 wines by the glass at all times. The menu is crafted to enhance the wine, and features French-inspired bistro food like steak frites and escargots for fantastic prices. For those that prefer a different fermentation, Vintage also features a plethora of specialty brews from all nooks of the world, like Dogfish Head from Delaware and Sagres from Portugal.
If you’re searching for an evening with some extra oomph, the staff offers personalized food and wine pairings and would be happy to work with any group. Order a flight with some recommendations from the wait staff and settle in for a great evening in this enticing and sophisticated atmosphere.
Whether the hunger strikes at lunch or dinner, sitting down for a meal at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District is a trip to culinary heaven. The crowds that flock there are proof positive of this and also a good sign that reservations are a must.
Chef Michael Schwartz quickly made a name for himself at the three-year old spot with simple bistro fare like steamed mussels with roasted tomato harissa broth, sticky black rice and garlic chips, and crispy sweet and spicy pork belly with kimchi and crushed peanuts. He prides himself on using the freshest organic ingredients available so his creations are top-notch in taste.
The indoor table seating is in an ecclectic, cool interior and there’s a welcoming bar where diners can watch their delectable eats being prepared. Being in Miami, of course there’s outdoor seating. The place is not to be missed and its a hot bed for celebs as well as notable locals.
One of the newest editions to Stephen Starr’s empire- of Buddakan and Morimoto fame- is Parc. This chic restaurant allows a bit of escape while still soaking in the beauty and bustle of Rittenhouse Square. Parc pays homage to the brasseries of Paris, doing so with its own charm and style.
In the upcoming winter, warm up at the large zinc bar inside with one of their signature and delicious cocktails. When the weather starts to warm, you’ll be lucky to snag a seat at the outdoor bistro tables that are prime for people watching.
Parc serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, and with everything from a delicious brioche french toast with apples and hazelnut butter to a classic steak frites, there’s not much you can go wrong with on this all-star menu.
No matter what time or what season, there’s no reason to miss out on this popular, chic café. Vive la France!
Your taste buds will be enticed at this bastion of flavor. Getting its name from the 56 types of wine it carries, the obvious focus is on the vino. The large selection comes at a reasonable price with $24 per bottle being the average. And if you just want a taste? Most varieties are just $6 a glass and $3 for half a glass.
The restaurant serves tapas-style small plates like fried oysters and macaroni and cheese- all at a very reasonable three to five dollars per plate. There’s quite a variety here for you to taste at Cellar 56, from wine to fine meals.
Café Anis serves fabulous French food in an intimate setting. Whether you’re on a date or with pals, this cozy eatery strikes just the right note. When the weather is pleasant, venture out onto the patio for a leisurely glass of wine. The cuisine is divine and the atmosphere is always upbeat.
Strolling down Wells Street in Chicago’s Old Town, you’ll pass dozens of charming restaurants emitting delicious smells, but only one will stick out as appearing classic French: C’estBistrot Margot! Its charming outdoor seating is filled with happy diners being served by attentive black aproned waiters below a classic red and black striped awning.
Inside this family-run restaurant, even more charming decor awaits. So French, so cozy, so magnifique! Any day of the week the slew of regular diners and newcomers alike take advantage of the items du jour from the rotating menu. Of course, a good ol’ Steak Frites is a top pick and rightfully so, but the options of fish, duck and chicken are equally as perfect.
Forget not when at Bistrot Margotthat it is a French restaurant and therefore, you’ll want to eat by courses. So don’t overdo it on the first appetizer of tarte au brie, moules or risotto du jour (a must!), because you need to eat every last course, including the cheese! That said: ordering wine is also a must, it helps cut through the rich and decadent food. Bon appetit!
Tucked away in Writer’s Square just off Larimer, Red Square Euro Bistro is like no place else in LoDo. First and foremost is the vodka bar: rounding out a list of nearly 100 from 20 different countries (including El Salvador and Kazakhstan!), all available by the shot or the bottle, is a wild selection of house infusions—dill, horseradish, and honey being especially good choices. (If spirits aren’t your poison, check out the imported Russian and Czech beers instead.) Then there’s the contemporary European food: borscht with eggs, veal dumplings, beef stroganoff, and pavlova with champagne sabayon help absorb all that alcohol. And in warm weather, the courtyard patio beyond the sleek red-walled dining room is a locals’ hangout from happy hour onwards.